Deciding where to celebrate your big day can be stressful, you want to be sure it is as convenient as possible for your guests to get there, but you also want it to be uniquely YOU.
Deciding on a location will also help you decide what type of wedding you are going to have. If the location you are in love with only holds 50 people, you aren't going to have a wedding with 200 guests. The other side to that is if you know you want 200 people at your wedding, you don't want to choose a location that can only comfortable hold 100 guests. (If you already have a specific number of guests in mind when you are starting your wedding planning process, my advice to you would be to only search for locations that can accommodate the number of guests you have in mind.)
Location can also be a big part of the decorating and style selection for your wedding. A destination wedding, outdoor wedding, church wedding, etc. will help you set the tone for your invitations, colors, a theme (if you want one) style of dress, and more. You don't want to choose a huge ballgown with fur trim if you decide on a beach wedding.
However, this is your day and you don't have to do anything by any specific rules. Most "wedding rules" from your mother's and grandmother's day are now thought of as basic ideas or guidelines that you can use to help you with your wedding plans...but you don't have to necessarily follow them anymore. That is, you don't have too, but you can do them all if you want, and that would be perfect as well. This day is about celebrating you and your groom's love and commitment to each other, so do it exactly the way YOU want to. If you want to wear running shoes instead of high heels under your dress and ride a bicycle built for two off into the sunset after exchanging vows at a local park, that is exactly what you should do.
I think the best way to make decisions about your wedding is to do what is comfortable to you as a couple. Of course you don't want to offend grandma, or bore your friends, but finding a happy medium that is representative of you and your groom should be what you aim for. If you are inviting the people who truly love and know you best to your wedding, (which is who you should be inviting!) they won't be able to be anything but happy for you as they celebrate this wonderful day with you.
An old barn, a beautiful church, your parents backyard, a grand hotel ballroom, a remodeled old house, a mountain top, a theater, the beach, a castle, a downtown loft, a vinyard...the list could go on and on. Choosing where to say your "I do's" can be overwhelming, because the possibilities are endless. But don't let that overwhelm you, see it as beeing freeing. You aren't restricted to one thing, or one "correct" place to swap your vows.
This day is all about the important commitment you and your groom are making to each other. Choosing to spend your lives together, and celebrating that with friends and family is an amazing step in your relationship. Choosing where you do this can be a great way to show how special this moment is for you.
However, I do want to say, if you aren't able to do it where you want, for one reason or another, don't let that ruin anything...although the location is an important part in the wedding plans...what it all boils down to is what you are doing on this special day, not where you are. The atmosphere for a wedding is changed by the location...but not what is happening, a happy and beautiful wedding can take place anywhere. So if it turns out you cant get the original location you dreamed of, let me reassure you, although it may seem like the end of the world at the moment, in the long run what you will remember about the day is who was there to celebrate with you and the memories you made.
Picking out your wedding location, in my opintion, is really one of THE most important parts of the wedding planning process.
Congratulations and happy planning!